City Palace, Udaipur

City palace, UdaipurThe majestic white building of City Palace located in the heart of Udaipur, is the largest palaces complex inn Rajasthan. It was originally built by Maharana Udai Singh, a Sisodia Rajput and numerous extensions by subsequent Maharanas gave it its present form. Built with marble and granite, it is surrounded by fort walls, and stands on a crest overlooking Lake Pichola. 

Its buildings are remarkable for their immense beauty and diversity. City Palace is quite different from the other palaces of its times in that its architectural style is medieval European. The majestic Hati Pol', or the 'Elephant Gate' forms the entrance of City Palace. There are two other gateways as well: 'Bara Pol' the 'Great gate' made in 1600A.D on the northern end leads to the first court yard, and joins Tripolia or the Three Pillared Gate  made in1725 A.D. The biggest and most beautiful temple of Udaipur, the Jagdish Temple constructed in 1651A.D, and dedicated to Lord Vishnu is situated inside the complex. Between the two gates are eight carved marble arches or 'Toranas' under which the rulers in the past were weighed against gold and silver, the value of which was then distributed to the poor people.

There is also an arena where elephant fights were staged. The palace has a rugged exterior.  Inside, there are many luxurious apartments surrounded by balconies, hanging gardens, massive octagonal towers and cupolas that enjoy breathtaking views over the lake and the city from the upper terraces. 

Raj Aangan or the Royal Courtyard made in 1571 is the oldest part of the palace. The main part of the palace with its several ' Mahals' is now preserved as a Museum. Nearly all the rooms of the palace are adorned with beautiful paintings, inlay glass work, antique furniture and colourful enamel, according to the traditions of the times. The 'Krishna Vilas' has a collection of miniature paintings depicting royal processions, festivals and games enjoyed by the Maharanas. 'Mor Chowk' or Peacock Square, has unique glass mosaics of peacocks, set in the walls and showing peacocks in three seasons.

Manak Mahal (Ruby Palace) has crystal and porcelain figures. 'Bhim Vilas' has a glass mosaic gallery with Radha-Krishna stories painted on the walls. The 'Suraj Gokhala' or the Sun Balcony has beautiful stained glass works and a panoramic view of the city below. The 'Zenana Mahal', or the queen's chambers and the Dilkusha Mahal or the Palace of Joy has frescoes and wall paintings. The Laxmi Vilas Chowk is an art gallery that has a unique collection of Mewar paintings. 

The 'Chini Chitrashala' is known for its ornamental tiles of Chinese and Dutch origins. The latter depict Biblical scenes including the flight to Egypt. The Moti Mahal or the Pearl Palace is decorated on a lavish scale and the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of mirrors) has inlaid mirrors. There is even a Hawa Mahal and a Bari Mahal with a fine garden build on a 90 feet high natural rock formation. The Amar Vilas is the highest point and has exquisite hanging gardens with fountains, towers and terraces that offer a majestic view of the town and Lake Pichola.

There is so much to explore and enjoy in City Palace; keep time handy with you.


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